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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Will AFC East sell or buy at trade deadline?


AP Photo/Steve Cannon; Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
The New York Jets landed Braylon Edwards in a deal last week; will the Bills ship Terrell Owens out of Buffalo before the trade deadline?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Unlike trade deadlines in the other major sports, the NFL's closing date doesn't elicit an entertaining barrage of player movement.

Blockbuster deadline deals are rare, but they do happen. Eric Dickerson, Hershel Walker and Jerry Rice were traded at the deadline. Lesser stars such as Roy Williams, Chris Chambers and Keenan McCardell were bartered, too.

This year's trade deadline is Tuesday.

The biggest name being bandied about lately is Terrell Owens. The Buffalo Bills haven't been able to figure out how to use the future Hall of Famer, who likely will be gone when his contract is up after the season.

With that in mind, here's a deadline preview for all four AFC East clubs.

Buffalo Bills

Market status: Sellers. The Bills are 1-4 and seemingly regressing by the week. There's no point in trying to acquire players for this season, unless their objective is to miss the playoffs by four games instead of five.

Shopping list: Draft picks. Whether the Bills choose to admit it, they're obviously in a rebuilding mode. They need to pay attention to the Cleveland Browns and start acting like it. The Browns have acquired 11 draft picks for next year. The Bills should be gathering as many as they can, too.

Buying power: Owens is Buffalo's most prominent currency. Trading him away makes sense. He's on a one-year contract. The Bills coaching staff can't figure out how to get him involved (averaging 2.4 catches and 40.4 yards a game). He already has sold tickets and jerseys.

The problem for Buffalo is that the market will be cold for Owens. Buffalo might have been the only team that wanted him to begin with, and Owens hasn't made an impact that would change a GM's mind. Plus, Owens is the only attractive asset the Bills have to promote for their Week 13 game in Toronto, a city the club still is trying to win over.

Return man and receiver Roscoe Parrish might draw some interest for a late-round draft pick. He badly wants out of Buffalo, and his flubbed punt return clinched Sunday's embarrassing loss to Cleveland. A team would need him only for his return skills because Parrish would need time to integrate into an offense.

The only other players on Buffalo's roster that are healthy and another team would want for this year are receiver Lee Evans, running backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson and defensive end Aaron Schobel. Evans and Schobel would be salary dumps, just like the Miami Dolphins did with Evans' high school teammate,  Chambers, two years ago.

Fans might want to jettison Lynch because of his off-field problems and Jackson's effectiveness at a low salary. But getting rid of Lynch would be foolish. Lynch, who already has been to a Pro Bowl, will be only 23 next year, while Jackson will be 29, dangerously close to a running back's expiration date. Whatever the Bills got in return for Lynch, they would need to draft another running back.

Miami Dolphins

Market status: Suddenly buyers. With back-to-back divisional victories that pull them within one game of first place in the AFC East, the 2-3 Dolphins will be looking for a push after it looked like they'd be standing pat.

Shopping list: Receiver, utility back, defensive back.

Buying power: Will the Dolphins be willing to trade precious draft picks in an attempt to jump back into a contender's role?

They've been trying to find help at receiver for months and were in talks with the Browns for Braylon Edwards. It would be understandable to imagine the Dolphins calling off their search after they began the year 0-3 and lost quarterback Chad Pennington to a season-ending shoulder injury, but Chad Henne's powerful arm actually makes finding another target all the more essential.

Pennington picked apart defenses with the help of possession receivers. Henne has the ability to throw deep and would maximize the services of a player such as -- oh, I don't know -- Owens or Evans. But intra-divisional trades are rare. Receivers said to be available include Dwayne Bowe and Johnnie Lee Higgins.

One of Dolphins coach Tony Sparano's favorite players, running back Patrick Cobbs, will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Cobbs filled a variety of roles on offense and special teams. While the Dolphins found him on the free-agent scrap heap two years ago, he's the type of player that's hard to replace.

The Dolphins need to do something about free safety Gibril Wilson. He keeps giving up big plays with late coverage, missed tackles and, on Monday night, a dumb penalty. They also could use a bit of help at cornerback to shore up the NFL's 19th-ranked pass defense. What would the Oakland Raiders take for Nnamdi Asomugha?

New England Patriots

Market status: Buyers.

Shopping list: linebacker, third receiver, offensive line, backup quarterback.

Buying power: The Patriots always are active when it comes to considering personnel moves. Bill Belichick has no fear when it comes to dealing star players (Richard Seymour) or taking on somebody else's baggage (Randy Moss). The Patriots are vigilant when it comes to monitoring the marketplace, and once they identify a move that might help them, they doggedly pursue it.

Sunday's injury to Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light could affect their trade-deadline strategy. Belichick has liked what he sees out of rookie Sebastian Vollmer and Mark LeVoir could come off the physically unable to perform list, but O-line depth rarely is a bad idea.

The Patriots officially announced Wednesday they've brought back 40-year-old linebacker Junior Seau, indicating they're less that satisfied with that position.

Shawne Merriman's dysfunctional relationship with Chargers management might have him on the block, but analysts have labeled him a player in decline. As Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post points out, "Merriman's name value is high among fans, but his tape evaluation value is not very high among NFL teams, so a trade is not likely to happen."

What will the Patriots do for their third receiver? Joey Galloway has been a disappointment, so much so that he's not even dressing on Sundays anymore. The Patriots likely are on the lookout for some help there.

The Patriots have maintained their plan of keeping only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, but they still could be on the lookout for a veteran to back up Tom Brady rather than leaving that responsibility to undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer.

New York Jets

Market status: Window shoppers.

Shopping list: Versatile tight end, draft picks.

Buying power: Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan certainly aren't skittish when it comes to making trades, but their roster might be set for the rest of the season after last week's acquisition of Edwards from Cleveland. The move addressed their biggest need, giving them a play-making receiver who can stretch the field.

The Jets, however, aren't perfect. They can upgrade here and there, so a trade isn't out of the question.

Dustin Keller is a fine receiving threat, but the Jets need a tight end who can block and catch a little. Keller's blocking abilities make him a liability in the run game and force the Jets to use Ben Hartsock. When Keller is on the field, defenses know what's coming. They go to nickel or load up his side, forcing him to stay in and protect. On Monday night, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez targeted Keller once against the Dolphins, a team that has been torched by tight ends all year.

Their biggest needs are draft picks simply to keep the team restocked for the future. Because they're amenable to trades, they've drafted 13 players over the past three years, three in April.